Build a Back of Legendary Proportions

The back routine that's helping Nathan DeAsha move up the IFBB ranks.



Six hours later, De Asha is back at it, starting with four sets of pullups, palms forward. “I’m aiming for 12 at least, but I tend to fail around 13 or 14 reps,” he says.

Next—depending on what he did the previous week, since his workouts are constantly changing—he may do four sets of front pulldowns. Pyramiding each set, he’ll start with 15 reps, then a couple of sets of 12, before going for failure around 10. “Roelly [Winklaar] doesn’t like me to fall below 10 reps, so that’s the goal,” De Asha says.

Although heavy, De Asha doesn’t compromise form by leaning too far back, which turns a pulldown into more of a row. “I sit straight up because I feel more pull in the lats that way,” he says. “I’ll pull the bar down just past the chin toward a point on my chest about two inches above the nipple.” 

Winklaar has become De Asha’s de facto coach. He’s the one who first coaxed the young Brit to Oxygen Gym, the masterful passion project of bodybuilding fan and entrepreneur Bader Boodai. Oxygen, which just might boast the greatest array of bodybuilding equipment in the world, has attracted a number of pros, including Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay and Khalid Almohsinawi.

“I had taken a year off competing after winning the British Championships in 2014,” De Asha recalls. “Roelly told me I should come to Kuwait, but I was managing two jobs, my household, and I had my girlfriend and two children. I didn’t think I could do it. I was bricklaying—up at five in the morning, out of the house at 6, working till 7, and going to the gym for 45 minutes, so I wasn’t getting the full benefits of the gym.”

One day in 2015, he decided to go for it. “I packed the night before, bought a ticket, and I was in Kuwait the next day,” he says. “Going to Kuwait has changed my life. Bader put me up with a place to live, he and Ahmad [Askar, Oxygen’s main trainer] helped me when I needed it. I’m very thankful for that.” 

After pulldowns, De Asha turns to two single-arm exercises to really hone each side of his back—one-arm Hammer Strength pulldowns for four sets, followed by a single-arm seated cable row or dumbbell row for three sets.


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